The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) on Wednesday threatened to go on strike, and will embark on a national rally to sensitise Nigerians on the ongoing oil theft which has crippled revenues.
PENGASSAN affirmed that beginning Thursday across four states — Abuja, Lagos, Warri and Port Harcourt — all members of its Union will embark on rally across strategic locations to sensitise the nation on the dangers and economic losses inherent in crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism.
Festus Osifo, President of PENGASSAN who made the intentions of the Association known at a press conference held in Abuja said crude oil theft had crumbled the economy and the Union can no longer hold its breath.
He said due to oil theft, Nigeria can no longer meet up with OPEC quota of 1.8 million barrels of crude oil, and is even struggling to produce a million barrels, because the products are stolen, while companies are shutting down production.
Osifo stressed that this the first time crude oil price is hitting $100 per barrel in the international market in recent years, but that Nigeria has nothing to show for it due to the growing incidents of oil theft which is now a menace and a real time challenge.
He urged government to develop the courage and the political will to fight out these oil thieves vandalising the nation’s pipelines, lamenting that some cartels are responsible for the menace and are feeding fat on the nation’s wealth, as well as sabotaging the economy.
Osifo vowed that oil workers are ready to withdraw their services if the government pays lip service to their demands of fighting the menace with sincerity and sense of purpose and also pull out its entire workforce from oil and gas installations nationwide in protest of the increasing oil theft and vandalism.
“In other climes governments deploy high technology to fight such heinous crimes of sabotage, but upon all the hues and cries and the damage oil theft and pipeline vandalism are doing to the nation’s economy, the Federal Government appears to be helpless,” Osifo said.
“The Union had engaged and dialogued with critical stakeholders, agencies of government and service chiefs on how to curb oil theft, stating that despite all meetings, none had yielded the desired result, due to the cartels that are largely feasting on it and crumbling the economy.
“This is a menace that is leapfrogging the country. This is the reason Nigeria keeps borrowing to finance the national budget. enough is enough. We have to add our voice to the current struggle. It is not going to be a one-off thing. Companies are shutting down, our members are losing their jobs in services and producing companies.
“The business is that bad now because companies are struggling to sustain the workforce. This is a real crisis that government of the day must develop the muscle and political will to chase out the oil thieves. What is happening is beyond blame game. This is the time to practicalise what we have been saying. The earlier government acts fact, the better for the economy.”